Blog / 13 Expert Tips for Creating a Successful Digital Contest

13 Expert Tips for Creating a Successful Digital Contest

Digital contests and campaigns are popular channels for generating leads and increasing brand engagement. That said, there are countless ways to create campaigns, some much better than others.

Our team has had the opportunity to work with some incredible companies on contests that generated thousands of leads, incredibly unique UGC, and hundreds of fans. Along the way, we’ve picked up on some best practices on how to create digital contests that are richly rewarding for both your audience and brand.

Planning Your Contest

items on desk used for planning

  1. Start with set goals in mind. This may sound obvious, but whether it’s to generate leads, drive product sales, expand brand awareness, or some combination of those things, having clear goals will help drive the direction of your design and promotion. For example, if your goal is to generate leads, then you’ll want to include forms on your contest site to collect email addresses, phone numbers, and other data points that are important to your sales and marketing efforts.
  2. Define and understand the audience you want to engage. A successful contest targets a specific audience; rather than casting a wide net, you’ll want to hone in on a specific customer segment. Once you’ve decided on the segment, you can gather cues from social media, such as who they engage with and what they talk about, to define a theme and prize that tease their unique interests. Leverage Zoomph’s audience analytics to also identify their top interests, behaviors, and more.

    One of our most successful contests with Nationwide, who wanted to increase leads around its pet insurance. They leveraged their partnership with former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and pitched a contest offering the winner a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have a picture of his or her dog painted onto Earnhardt’s car. The contest drew an impassioned crowd of both NASCAR and pet lovers, resulting in two times more entries than the last Junior Nation contest and many viable leads for Nationwide.

  3. Prepare your follow-up strategy ahead of time. Many people scramble to come up with a remarketing strategy after a contest has ended and interest has started to stagnate. Their leads ultimately get dumped into one big bucket of contacts that receive the same, impersonal email blasts over time, wasting the effort and time put into creating a targeted contest. To avoid this from happening to you, prepare your follow-up strategy even before you create your contest. Map out a segmented marketing strategy that can guide your decision-making and help you engage leads when purchase intent is highest.

Building Your Contest

responsive contest design

Whether your organization is designing the contest yourself or contracting services, here are a few things to keep in mind when building your contest site.

  1. The design should revolve around the customer journey and how a user experiences the contest. Every detail—from the moment someone lands on the page to the time they submit an entry—needs to be thoughtfully placed to educate and encourage someone to participate.
  2. Be clear and simple. You should have clear CTAs and instructions that are simple to understand and execute. Contests that require anything beyond 3-4 steps are often complex and may become more of an inconvenience than they’re worth from the user’s perspective. Read more tips on setting up your forms.
  3. Don’t forget about mobile. When designing the layout of your site, remember to take both desktop and mobile experiences into consideration with the placement of forms, buttons, and CTAs. Just because something looks good in a mockup doesn’t mean it’ll work smoothly or practically when someone is scrolling through on their phone or computer.
  4. Limit how much data you require. If data and information capture is a key component of your contest, keep required fields at a minimum. Don’t get too greedy; you don’t want to make a user uncomfortable by asking for too much personal information. And if you’re going to ask for data, ask for it all in one place as opposed to having multiple forms or data fields throughout the site.
  5. Offer multiple ways to enter. If your contest entails the submission of user-generated content (UGC), be flexible in terms of what and how things can be submitted. Offer options for submitting entries via direct upload, as well as posting to social (social entries will help organically spread the word of your contest to wider audiences). For direct uploads, make sure that you can support multiple file formats and sizes.
  6. Consider the drawbacks of video. Video contests are becoming more and more popular, but when it comes to UGC entries, we’ve found that users are less shy in text and photo submissions than they are in videos. While videos tend to be more engaging, they can be time consuming and uncomfortable to film.

Promotion and Launch

launching a new site

  1. Test, test, test, test, test! QA across multiple browsers, desktops, and mobile devices is vital when running national (or even international) contests. Test your website as though you were the end-user. Go through the user flow and account for any errors that may prevent someone from participating. Technical road blocks can frustrate customers and leave a poor taste for those who are being introduced to your brand.
  2. Prepare a promotion strategy. Build relevant content (blogs, segmented emails, etc.) targeted at your contest audience. Plan and budget for social ads and, if time allows, A/B test multiple types of copy and visuals. Leverage influencers or brand ambassadors to spread the word to their personal networks.
  3. Act on submissions as you receive them. Showcase high-quality UGC submissions to inspire more participation (but make sure you receive the user’s consent first). If you’re collecting email addresses, don’t wait until the end of your campaign to remarket and reach out to those contacts, but use it as an avenue to keep people engaged throughout the contest period. Since you know that only one or a few people will win your contest, send promo codes to other offers to keep your brand front-of-mind for those who don’t win your prize.
  4. Expect the best from participants but be prepared for the worst. When something valuable is up for grabs, people are naturally going to look for ways to game or cheat your system. If your contest is going to be dictated by things like votes, be sure to authenticate every vote and entry. Require an email address or social login to ensure that the user behind every entry is a real person. Your contest rules should also clearly state your company’s right to investigate inappropriate conduct.

Launching a contest?  Check out Zoomph's self-service digital activations, forms, and tools!
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